Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review: The Push Hands Workbook

Taiji practitioner Nando Raynolds has put together a very nice instructional book. The title, "The Push Hands Workbook: Tai Chi partner movements (Tui Shou) for sport and personal development" is lengthy but sums up the thurough examination Nando has compiled in everything that is push hands.
The Taiji training drills known as "push hands" are fundemental in understanding the types of energies one trains to learn in the form. While there is no substitute for a good instructor, you can pick up quite a bit from books and video to suppliment the learning process. While I have several other books and videos on the subject, I admire and am pleased with the approach that Nando takes in this book.
It's thuroughness is reflected in it's slightly clinical presentation (Raynolds is a therapist) which includes his analysis of why physical assaults occur, with profiles of successful and unsuccessful encounters. With that in mind, Raynolds approaches push hands as interaction between two individuals, dealing with issues of ego, gender, size and attitude.
Raynolds does a good job of introducing drills with categories of "time frame", "focus skills", "format", "advanced variations" and so on. He seems to have thought ahead to questions a beginning student would have, and answers them in the above formats.
Many of the drills and skills are familiar to me, as taught by my Tai Chi Chuan instructor and push hands champion Michael Gilman, who has also endorsed the book.
In my opinion, "The Push Hands Workbook" would be an ideal guidebook for Colleges and study groups that offer Tai Chi Chuan classes. The book will stimulate ideas in students new to push hands, and provide a convenient and effective teaching format for instructors.
"The Push Hands Workbook" can be seen at this page at Amazon.


Sensei Strange said...

I just stumbled upon your blog. Thanks for your work.

I have been incorporating more classical push hands into my Aikido, especially when we have members that are injured but still want to play.

Dojo Rat said...

Nice to meet you,

I think push hands and aikido play work really well together. Have you seen any of Peter Ralston's 'Cheng Hsin", which combines Aikido, Taiji , Bagua and western boxing?
If not, check it out for some really good ideas.